We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the future of gas recently so we’ve decided to put together a quick FAQ on the subject.
What is “Top Tier” gas?
“Top tier” gas is, quite simply, gas that is as costly as oil but is significantly more efficient. It usually has better octane ratings than regular gasoline and also is available in a more convenient volume. The most efficient and expensive sorts of gas are known as “premium” or “super premium.” They are typically stored in high-security tanks.
When did this new fuel standard go into effect?
On January 1, 2020, California began phasing in a stricter fuel standard that requires motorists to use more expensive gasoline with an admixture of 10 percent ethanol or higher. As a result, the prices at the pump have climbed dramatically, spiking over 20 cents per gallon in some places. While the change may be frustrating at first, it will also save consumers thousands of dollars in fuel costs in the long run. Gasoline is currently sold by the liter in California, so buyers are paying for what they consume. Since ethanol is more expensive than gasoline, drivers are simply opting to use more of it. This leads to a more economical driving experience because the fuel is more efficient.
Has the state mandated that all gasoline sold in the state be of a higher quality?
No. While California has required that all gasoline sold in the state undergoes an ethanol blending process, it has not required that all gasoline be of a higher quality. In fact, California is one of the largest producers of gasoline in the country and has one of the lowest requirements for ethanol in the nation. If anything, the state has encouraged competition among gasoline manufacturers and has even created a website where drivers can compare gasoline prices and buy a cheap can to take home for the weekend.
How does the federal government feel about this?
The Trump administration has signaled their support for this change by lifting regulations that prevented refiners from marketing gasoline with higher ethanol content. As a result, filling stations have changed their fuel blends to comply with the new standard, allowing motorists to opt for higher ethanol content when they want. Experts predict that within a year, prices will stabilize and even drop as new supplies reach the market. If you’re looking for the cheapest gas prices, it’s worth heading to a gas station during the week when there are no more than five stations that have switched over to selling higher ethanol blends.
Do I need to change my car’s engine in order to use this higher-quality gasoline?
No. While it’s true that some cars may require an additional investment in order to run on ethanol-blended fuel, it is by no means a necessity. Ethanol is a renewable fuel source and will continue to be available for cars that were manufactured before the new fuel standard went into effect. As long as you keep your car’s engine clean and well-maintained, you will receive good gas mileage without any noticeable difference.
So what happens now?
While it would be ideal to drive on straight ethanol-blended fuel for the rest of your life, life isn’t always ideal. In some cases, a car may require an additional investment in order to run on ethanol-blended fuel and it’s not worth it for everyone. If you’re looking for an economical alternative, consider buying a pre-2010 model year car that uses gasoline. If you’re looking for a cheap way to save on fuel costs while still enjoying the benefits of high-quality gasoline, consider opting for a flex-fuel vehicle.
As we’ve mentioned, California has one of the lowest requirements for ethanol in the country. Due to this, vehicles that were manufactured in other parts of the country may require a minimum amount of ethanol in order to operate properly. If this minimum amount isn’t available at the pump, it’s best to have it transported separately in a tank, which is more expensive. Fortunately, there is a work-around to this minimum ethanol requirement: hybrids. These are cars that get their power from an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Since electric motors require very little fuel to function, hybrids can run on anything without needing an additional tank.
This is also why the gasoline prices are so high right now. The ethanol requirements have caused a shortage in the market, preventing the average person from finding a good-quality bargain. The high price of gasoline combined with the drought in the southwestern U.S. has even led to shortages at some gas stations. If you’re looking for an alternative fuel source, consider purchasing a hybrid or opting for a flex-fuel vehicle.